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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.

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August 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tensions persisted as authorities appointed controversial figure as new top anti-corruption prosecutor, and anti-govt protests continued, albeit at lower intensity. After thousands in July protested dismissal of Juan Francisco Sandoval as head of Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), Attorney General Maria Porras 3 Augannounced head of Electoral Crimes Prosecutor’s Office, Rafael Curruchiche, would take over Sandoval immediately criticised appointment, accusing Curruchiche of protecting corrupt individuals; U.S. 5 Aug said move “does not add confidence in [FECI’s] ability to independently investigate and prosecute corruption cases”. Members of farmers and indigenous groups 9 Aug blocked roads across country, calling on President Giammattei and Porras to resign and accusing them of dismantling judicial independence; during renewed protest in capital Guatemala City, police 19 Aug prevented clashes between protesters and dozens of reported shop owners who threatened to dissolve rally with bats. U.S. newspaper The New York Times 24 Aug alleged President Giammattei received bribes from Russian delegation in April in exchange for concessions at Santo Tomás maritime port; Giammattei immediately denied accusations.

July 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Tensions ran high over govt’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic and following dismissal of chief prosecutor against corruption. Amid growing discontent with govt’s handling of COVID-19, particularly in relation to test and vaccine procurement, around 300 protesters 10 July demonstrated in capital Guatemala City demanding resignation of President Giammattei. Giammattei 12 July vowed to crack down on “illegal demonstrations”, accused protesters of “spreading the virus”, and next day issued decree empowering police to break up any protest not complying with health security measures. VP Guillermo Castillo 14 July criticised move, saying govt should “get more vaccines…rather than limiting constitutional rights”. Meanwhile, attorney general 23 July dismissed top anti-corruption prosecutor, Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) head Juan Francisco Sandoval, accusing him of “abuses”; FECI, which was created to tackle investigations initially spearheaded by UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, disbanded by Guatemalan government in 2019, recently faced several legal challenges seeking to revoke its mandate. Sandoval immediately said he would challenge “illegal dismissal”, 24 July fled to neighbouring El Salvador “to safeguard his life”. Hundreds same day protested Sandoval’s removal outside presidential palace in Guatemala City and reiterated call for Giammattei’s resignation. Following calls for national strike by main indigenous and student groups, thousands 29-30 July marched and blocked highways across country, particularly in Totonicapán department (west). U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 25 July said Sandoval’s dismissal “undermines the rule of law”, and Washington 27 July announced temporary suspension of programmatic cooperation with Attorney General’s Office.

November 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

State budget for 2021 sparked unrest; hurricane killed dozens. Congress 18 Nov approved controversial 2021 budget, including substantial reduction in funding of Human Rights Ombudsman and judiciary, as well as several social and health programs. Thousands 21 Nov demonstrated against budget in capital Guatemala City and other cities, with small group of protesters breaking into Congress and setting fire to parts of building; police fired tear gas to disperse protesters, injuring 22 and detaining 37. Protests continued in following days in Guatemala City, prompting Congress speaker to withdraw bill 25 Nov. President Giammattei 22 Nov dismissed protests as coup attempt by minority groups, and govt same day requested Organization of American States (OAS) to help facilitate dialogue between political forces; OAS sent delegation 27 Nov. Some 2,000 people 28 Nov attended further protests in Guatemala City, demanding Giammattei and Congress representatives who approved budget resign. Govt 23-27 Nov arrested 40 members of MS-13 and 18th Street gangs in U.S.-backed anti-organised crime operations throughout country. After hurricane Eta made landfall 3 Nov, and storm Iota caused flooding mid-month, govt’s disaster agency 17-19 Nov reported total of 57 dead, 96 missing and 1.3mn affected. 

October 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Allegations of corruption continued to plague current and former govts, while tensions with Honduras rose over migration issues. Opposition legislators 12 Oct reported irregularities in govt’s purchase of emergency food in late Sept, and alleged financial subsidy destined for those most affected by COVID-19 pandemic had been distributed to at least 7,000 dead people since outbreak of pandemic. Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) 16 Oct seized $16mn in cash in house in Antigua town, near capital Guatemala City, tied to former Communications Minister José Luis Benito Ruiz; Attorney General’s Office 20 Oct issued arrest warrant against Benito, who is fifth minister of former President Morales’ administration being investigated for criminal activities. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 28 Oct announced “public designation” of First Secretary of Congress Felipe Alejos Lorenzana and former Deputy Delia Bac for role in alleged corruption, rendering them ineligible for entry to U.S. Meanwhile, attorney general 7 Oct issued administrative complaints against head of FECI and three FECI prosecutors, accusing them of corruption and money laundering; U.S. state department next day denounced charges, said attorney general must “prosecute the corrupt, not the anti-corruption prosecutors.” As elections of Supreme Court magistrates remained stalled in Congress after Attorney General’s Office in Feb revealed irregularities over selection process, Supreme Court 13 Oct passed ruling allowing current magistrates to stay in office. Police 6 Oct transferred 13 Barrio 18 gang members from Matamoros prison to different jails in attempt to prevent them from organising criminal activity while incarcerated. Tensions increased between Guatemala and Honduras over migration. As caravan of 3,000 Hondurans 1 Oct departed for Guatemala en route to U.S., govt same day declared state of prevention, allowing security forces to detain and deport migrants; authorities 4 Oct claimed around 3,300 migrants were sent back to Honduras, but accused Tegucigalpa of refusing to take back its citizens.

September 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Amid persistent tensions between Congress and judiciary, authorities launched attacks on press. President Giammattei’s ally and head of controversial coordination cell within govt Miguel Martínez 9 Sept filed criminal complaint against Plaza Pública newspaper for threats, harassment and extortion, after it reported same day that Martínez and Giammattei are business partners. Public Ministry 12 Sept opened investigation after police officers previous day reportedly beat and arrested Vox Populi journalist Sonny Figueroa shortly after he published article criticising Martínez’s role in govt. Authorities 22 Sept arrested journalist Anastasia Mejía in Joyabaj municipality, Quiché department, on sedition charges; NGO Committee to Protect Journalists 28 Sept called for immediate release of Mejía and for govt to “guarantee that journalists can report freely without persecution”. NGO Human Rights Watch 9 Sept called on judiciary and Congress to “end their relentless attacks” on human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas for “his defence of sexual and reproductive rights”. Election of Supreme Court and appeal courts magistrates remained stalled in Congress after Attorney General’s office in Feb revealed irregularities in selection process; Congress leaders 9 Sept created working group on issue. Following Aug murders of NGO worker and land defender, NGO International Land Coalition 9 Sept expressed concern over violations of rights of members of indigenous and peasant organisations. Prison inmates in Guatemala City 3 Sept took four guards hostage in response to govt transferring Barrio 18 gang leaders to different prisons in attempt to curb extortion orders; inmates released guards next day. Health Ministry 8 Sept recorded 21,000 cases of acute malnutrition.

August 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt’s management of COVID-19 crisis continued to come under scrutiny amid tensions between Congress and judiciary. In address to Congress 3 Aug, first party in Congress Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza said govt has only distributed 3.5% of food rations earmarked in emergency funds approved to address COVID-19. Indigenous and civil society groups stepped up criticism of govt and lawmakers over management of pandemic; over 20 organisations in Quetzaltenango department 9 Aug declared five of their Congress representatives as persona non grata, and several organisations in Chiquimula department 11 Aug did the same for their three representatives. Maya, Xinca and Garifuna indigenous authorities 14 Aug demanded resignations of heads of executive, judicial, and legislative branches, citing their alleged inability to serve citizens. Hundreds 15 and 22 Aug gathered in capital Guatemala City to protest govt’s management of pandemic. Concerns over slow response grew further after media 17 Aug reported four out of 14 COVID-19 relief programs have yet to distribute money despite being approved five months ago. Congress continued to delay elections of Supreme Court and appeal courts magistrates after Attorney General’s office in Feb revealed irregularities in selection process of magistrates; Attorney General 7 Aug requested that immunity of 92 Congress members and several Supreme Court and Constitutional Court members be lifted for allegedly thwarting election process. Armed assailants 11 Aug killed French NGO worker in San Antonio Ilotenango municipality, El Quiché department (north east). Govt 16 Aug renewed for 15 days state of emergency imposed late July in five municipalities in Izabal (east) and Alta Verapaz departments over reported presence of criminal groups there.

July 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Under pressure for alleged corruption in handling of COVID-19, govt created new anti-graft body, while insecurity persisted. Following June removal of health minister and other ministry officials for mismanagement of COVID-19 response, including allegations of corruption, govt 9 July created Anti-corruption Secretariat. President Giammattei’s cabinet same day went into quarantine after minister tested positive for virus, amid reports pandemic had stretched health care facilities to their limits. Govt 27 July introduced ‘‘traffic light’’ alert system, allowing local authorities to impose different levels of restrictions depending on contagion numbers. Following Congress and Supreme Court’s late June attempt to lift immunity of Constitutional Court magistrates, Constitutional Court 25 July ruled to defend its members’ immunity; move came after series of Constitutional Court rulings on alleged irregularities in selection process of judges to Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, insecurity continued. Unidentified gunmen 14 July injured new mayor of Teculután town, Zacapa department (east), whose predecessor was murdered in May. Govt 27 July imposed 15-day state of emergency in five municipalities in departments of Izabal (east) and Alta Verapaz (north), alleging presence of criminal groups there; peasant (campesino) movement had rejected govt move to impose 30-day state of emergency in same municipalities 19 July saying it would militarise area and restrict rights; in statement published 21 July, 125 national and international rights groups supported peasants’ complaint. Tensions with U.S. remained high over continued deportation flights amid COVID-19 pandemic; health ministry 7 July reported 216 returned migrants had tested positive since outbreak started.

June 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

President Giammattei dismissed health minister over allegations of mismanagement of COVID-19 crisis, while tensions with U.S. persisted over deportation of migrants. Giammattei 19 June replaced health minister and three other Ministry officials; move followed investigation by Presidential Commission against Corruption into Ministry’s alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 pandemic, including creation of ghost jobs – salaries collected without work being performed – and hiring of unqualified people, and newspaper Prensa Libre’s 6 June accusation that Ministry had manipulated numbers of reported COVID-19 infections and deaths. Meanwhile, police reported they had arrested 24,800 people for violating COVID-19 lockdown 22 March-13 June. Amid concerns over potential spread of virus in overcrowded prisons, director of prison system 16 June said eight prisoners had died from COVID-19. Police 2 June reported improving security with 978 homicides Jan-May 2020, compared to 1,515 in same period last year. Criminal violence and local conflicts however continued. Notably, alleged smugglers 4 June set up roadblocks and attacked police precinct in San Marcos city (west). Violence also persisted in Sololá department (south), where govt imposed state of emergency in three municipalities late May following deadly clashes over longstanding territorial dispute; after renewed clashes there 11 June left two dead, govt 25 June extended state of emergency for 30 days. Tensions with U.S. remained high over continued deportation flights amid COVID-19 pandemic and despite broader restrictions on international flights. U.S. under-secretary of state 5 June stated flights would continue; authorities reported 159 deportations 1-15 June; govt 23 June reported six new deportees tested positive for COVID-19.

May 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt continued to face allegations of corruption in handling of COVID-19 crisis, while rising levels of malnutrition sparked concerns and tensions with U.S. persisted over continued deportation of migrants. Amid surge in COVID-19 cases, Congress 11 May voted to extend state of emergency into June, and President Giammattei declared total nationwide lockdown 15-17 May and 23-24 May. Police reportedly arrested 19,000 people for violating curfew 22 March-14 May. Human Rights Ombudsman 23 May recommended Giammattei remove health minister for mismanagement of COVID-19 funds. Lawmakers 27 May accused health ministry of overpaying advisers, while failing to provide adequate protective equipment to health facilities and workers. Concerns persisted over COVID-19-related malnutrition, particularly in rural areas; World Food Programme 8 May said 921,000 households were at risk of food insecurity due to pandemic, while govt 11 May said 13,000 children were facing acute malnutrition. Amid ongoing social unrest, residents of Quixayá town (south) 2 May blocked roads to denounce high cost of electricity. Tensions with U.S. remained high over continued deportation flights despite COVID-19 pandemic; Guatemalan govt announced several pauses in flights throughout month and accused U.S. of not testing deportees, saying many returnees tested positive upon arrival. Giammattei 21 May said U.S. is not treating Guatemala like an ally; U.S. embassy immediately denied accusation.

April 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt continued to take strong security measures to address COVID-19, while deportation flights from U.S. sparked tensions. Govt repeatedly extended COVID-19 state of emergency and related curfew imposed late March; 19 April relaxed internal travel restrictions, introduced 4 April, for all but four departments. Mayors and social leaders 3 April said money transfers to poorest, put in place by govt late-March in context of COVID-19, often end up in hands of wealthier households due to flawed data gathering. Govt 5 April subcontracted delivery of 3mn masks to company run by former colleague of President Giammattei’s wife, raising concerns over corruption; Giammattei 20 April dismissed two health vice-ministers and six other officials for alleged wrongdoing in purchase of medical equipment. Fearing social unrest, authorities as of 2 April reportedly trained 200 policemen to break up protests; police 22 March-17 April reportedly arrested more than 10,000 people for allegedly violating COVID-19 curfew. Deportation flights from U.S. sparked controversy; after health minister 14 April said deportations from U.S. contributed to COVID-19 spread in country, govt 16 April announced pause in flights. Residents fearing contagion in city of Quetzaltenango (west) 15 April staged protest against confinement centre hosting 80 Guatemalans deported from Mexico, throwing stones at them and threatening to set centre on fire. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 13 April said migratory flow from Central America dropped by 76% since May 2019 and announced restoral of some aid – cut in 2019 – to help country further tackle migration.

March 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt’s anti-corruption drive continued while Constitutional Court overturned NGO decree that sparked concern over democratic backsliding. Court 2 March sentenced former president of Congress Pedro Muadi to 30 years in prison for heading criminal structure which handed out ghost jobs – salaries collected without work being performed; same day, court found 30 people, mostly former Congressional staff, guilty of using ghost jobs to launder money. President Giammattei 11 March said legal proceedings against companies over fiscal issues was “stupid persecution”, raising concern about his determination to pursue anti-corruption efforts. Constitutional Court (CC) 3 March ruled govt’s Feb decree allowing authorities to shut down NGOs on ground of disturbing public order as unconstitutional citing threats to human rights. Giammattei next day said bill would come into effect regardless of ruling but backed down 6 March after CC reiterated suspension of law and 9 March said he would present amendments in upcoming weeks so decree can enter into force. Amid regional concern over migration, govt 6 March said talks were ongoing with U.S. over implementation of July 2019 Asylum Cooperation Agreement signed by previous govt, which allows U.S. to transfer asylum seekers to Guatemala so they can apply there, including over responsibility for transfer costs. Guatemalan Institute for Migration 6 March said 823 people had arrived through scheme since Nov, with sixteen formally requesting asylum in Guatemala; govt 17 March blocked deportation flights from U.S. to prevent spread of COVID-19, after declaring state of emergency and closing borders for two weeks 16 March, but 19 March resumed reception of flights carrying Guatemalan deportees. Govt late March extended state of emergency and related curfew until 12 April.

February 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

New govt of President Giammattei, inaugurated in Jan, continued anti-corruption drive and focused on security issues. In attempt to purge civil service of ghost jobs – salaries collected without work being performed – govt 10 Feb said census to verify extent of phenomenon was ongoing. Security also high on govt agenda; following Jan declaration of State of Prevention – allowing emergency measures aimed at fighting crime – in Mixco and San Juan Sacatepéquez cities, Giammattei announced further State of Prevention in cities of Chimaltenango 5 Feb and in Escuintla 14 Feb; authorities reported 76 people arrested in Chimaltenango by 10 Feb and at least 50 in Escuintla by 20 Feb. Congressional committee 4 Feb began examining bill to designate gangs as terrorist groups, part of Giammattei’s electoral pledge, however Human Rights Ombudsman previous day said it had yet to make sure bill does not violate human rights, while civil society group Diálogos 4 Feb criticised it for being applicable to many social groups. Congress 11 Feb passed controversial bill allowing authorities to sanction NGOs which disturb public order, sparking criticism from civil society, indigenous communities and U.S.; Giammattei 27 Feb signed bill into law. Amid regional concern on migration, govt 5 Feb signed agreement with UN to improve management of migration flows; govt late Jan said several annexes to July 2019 Asylum Cooperation Agreement with U.S. had not been signed, and procedures for receiving asylum seekers still had to be negotiated. Court in U.S. 11 Feb sentenced former presidential candidate Mario Estrada to fifteen years in prison for financing election campaign with drug-trafficking money.

January 2020

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

After President-elect Giammattei took office 14 Jan, new govt launched corruption crackdown but civil society continued to raise concerns over alleged democratic backsliding. State prosecutors 15-16 Jan issued arrest warrants against eight senior officials for alleged corruption, prompting police to arrest former congresswoman and former mayor. Outgoing President Morales and VP Cabrera 14 Jan took oaths of office in Central American Parliament – parliamentary institution of regional organisation Central American Integration System – in Guatemala City; protesters and opposition denounced move as attempt to secure immunity from prosecution. In further attempt to delegitimise dismantled anti-corruption body International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), outgoing Congress 10 Jan recommended arrest of CICIG judges and prosecutors, accusing them of wrongdoing. Giammattei 16 Jan presented plan to create Anti-Corruption Presidential Commission to replace CICIG, and launched it 20 Jan. Controversial Law of Acceptance of Charges came into force 16 Jan, potentially reducing sentences by half for those involved in corruption cases who accept their guilt; civil society group Alliance for Reform same day filed plea against law to Constitutional Court on grounds that it promoted impunity; court same day suspended law temporarily. Caravan of migrants who departed from Honduras 15 Jan heading toward U.S. reached Guatemala-Mexico border 19 Jan; migrants clashed with Mexican security forces as Mexico, under pressure from U.S., denied them entry (see Mexico). FM Brolo 22 Jan said govt would maintain controversial Asylum Cooperation Agreement signed with U.S. in July 2019 which allows U.S. to transfer asylum seekers to Guatemala so that they can apply there.

December 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

President Morales’ approval of Law of Acceptance of Charges, and Congress’s continued actions to delegitimise dismantled anti-corruption body International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), point to increasing impunity despite pushback from opposition and civil society groups. Truth Commission created in Oct for people who consider themselves to be victims of CICIG concluded its last public hearing 27 Nov, with final report due to be presented 10 Jan to Congress, donor govts of CICIG, UN and Organization of American States. Morales 16 Dec sanctioned controversial reform that reduces sentences up to 50% for those involved in corruption cases who accept their guilt, despite protests against it by civil society groups, who also rejected planned budget cuts for health and education. After President Morales met with U.S. President Trump 17 Dec, the Wall Street Journal reported 20 Dec Guatemala is set to start accepting migrants from Brazil and Mexico, under Asylum Cooperation Agreement signed in July 2019.

November 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Congress took further actions to delegitimise defunct anti-corruption body, the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), while govt lifted state of emergency imposed to tackle organised drug crime in north east. Truth Commission created in Oct for people who consider themselves to be victims of CICIG 6 Nov requested list from Public Prosecutor with names of all national and foreign personnel who have worked for body; as of 11 Nov, Truth Commission had held 28 hearings with more than 20 pending. Congress 12 Nov adopted amendment to Criminal Code which provides for reduction of sentences up to 50% for those involved in certain criminal cases including corruption, illicit association, money laundering and electoral crimes, if they accept guilt; civil society groups denounced legal change as strengthening impunity and filed appeal at constitutional court. President Morales 4 Nov announced end of state of emergency in 22 municipalities and six departments in north east since early Sept, during which govt seized thousands of kilos of drugs and 75 tons of chemical precursors, and arrested 973 people. Govt temporarily closed Mexican border after two attacks 13 and 17 Nov on customs facilities and officers by alleged smugglers. U.S. 18 Nov issued rule allowing it to send migrants seeking protection at its southern border to Guatemala in compliance with July agreement designating it “safe third country”, and 21 Nov sent first migrant, a Honduran. U.S. 1 Nov announced extension of Temporary Protected Status for Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other countries until Jan 2021, which provides nationals from these countries temporary permission to live and work in the U.S..

October 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tensions continued over work of former anti-corruption body International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), whose mandate ended in Sept, and migration agreement with U.S.. Constitutional Court 7 Oct ordered injunction to immediately halt commission of inquiry set up by Congress late-Sept to probe alleged illegal or arbitrary acts by CICIG on grounds that Congress was usurping functions of Attorney General’s Office; President-elect Giammattei late Sept made statement criticising commission as “political show”. Congress dropped inquiry commission but 14 Oct launched Truth Commission to hold public hearings for people to report alleged CICIG abuses. Giammattei 3 Oct reiterated concern over lack of information on “Safe Third Country” agreement with U.S. which allows U.S. to transfer asylum cases to Guatemala while their cases are reviewed, and did not rule out repealing it when he takes office in Jan. U.S. 15 Oct warned govt must maintain agreement to benefit from proposed regional development plans, next day resumed some aid, focused on law enforcement and security. President Morales 2 Oct extended state of emergency in 22 municipalities, imposed in Sept following killing of three soldiers; Peasant Development Committee 17 Oct organised several protests across country rejecting extension.

September 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tensions continued over end of anti-corruption body and migration agreement with U.S.. UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)’s mandate ended 3 Sept, amid concern among observers over impact on anti-corruption efforts; President-elect Giammattei gave no further details of his planned new anti-corruption body, due to start operations Jan 2020. Congress 24 Sept created commission to investigate possible irregularities in CICIG’s work. Constitutional Court 10 Sept revoked its July ruling that declared Guatemala could not become “Safe Third Country” following July agreement with U.S., which foresees that migrants who file asylum requests in U.S. can be transferred to Guatemala while their cases are being reviewed. Earlier, Giammattei 5 Sept told U.S. Sec State Pompeo during visit to Washington DC that he disagrees with pact, and requested that his cabinet observes talks between outgoing govt of President Morales and U.S.; Giammattei 8 Sept said Morales prevented him from observing talks, and warned that he would not implement agreement if cut out of process. Morales 4 Sept decreed 30-day state of emergency in 22 municipalities in north east after three soldiers died in ambush by drug traffickers near border with Belize. Interior Minister Degenhart 18 Sept reported country now officially cocaine-producing after police and U.S. anti-narcotic specialists found coca plantations and laboratories in east, in areas close to Livingston and El Estor.

August 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Alejandro Giammattei won second round of presidential election. In run-off vote 11 Aug, Giammattei of Vamos party won 58% of vote, beating 42% for Sandra Torres of Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE), turnout 42%; Giammattei will assume office Jan 2020. Giammattei 11 Aug reiterated he will not renew International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) whose mandate ends 3 Sept, instead creating new anti-corruption commission. Attorney General 13 Aug announced creation of 60-person technical unit to assist new anti-corruption body “Special Attorney against Impunity”, with CICIG spokesman raising concerns that unit does not contain any CICIG members. Following July U.S.-Guatemala “Safe Third Country” agreement requiring migrants who pass through country to first seek asylum there instead of U.S., Constitutional Court (CC) received official copy of accord from govt 9 Aug, in order for CC to make final decision on previous provisional ruling which blocked signing of agreement without congressional approval; Giammattei 13 Aug stated country had neither resources nor security to act as safe third country and reaffirmed deal must have U.S. and Guatemalan congressional approval. Minister of Interior Enrique Degenhart 22 Aug signed security cooperation agreement with U.S. on sharing biometric information of foreigners in or passing through Guatemala.

July 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Fallout from June presidential and legislative elections continued amid uncertainty over future of International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) 1 July confirmed two most successful candidates from presidential vote – Sandra Torres of Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE) and Alejandro Giammattei of political party Vamos – would contest run-off 11 Aug; Congress 11 July confirmed out of 160 seats in congress UNE won 52 and Vamos 17. Amid criticism from public prosecutors that TSE rushed results confirmation and ignored irregularities, TSE 17 July announced official end to voting recount, ruling out allegations of electoral fraud. Ahead of 3 Sept end of CICIG’s mandate, Human Rights Prosecutor Jordán Rodas 15 July asked Constitutional Court (CC) to permanently uphold Jan ruling which blocked govt from terminating CICIG’s mandate with immediate effect; report from NGO Amnesty International 9 July warned govt’s attacks on CICIG could wipe out progress in strengthening judicial system. Govt and U.S. 26 July signed “Safe Third Country” protocol which requires Central American migrants who pass through Guatemala to first seek asylum there, rather than in U.S. Earlier in month, President Morales 23 July filed appeal against CC 14 July ruling that prevented govt from entering into such an agreement without Congressional approval.  

June 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Presidential and legislative elections held mid-June marred by fraud allegations amid reports of death threats on electoral officials prior to elections. In first round of presidential vote 16 June, Sandra Torres, candidate for Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE), won 25.54% of vote, Alejandro Giammattei of Vamos party won 13.95%; both set for second round run-off 11 August. Organization of American States initial assessment of election 18 June found no evidence of fraud but highlighted pre-election violence. However, Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) 20 June announced recount following fraud allegations. Recount began 26 June but suspended same day after Public Prosecutor raided TSE offices as part of investigation into possible irregularities in results. Recount restarted 27 June. In lead up to election TSE had identified 91 municipalities posing high risk of political violence; attorney general 12 June confirmed electoral crimes prosecutor fled country after receiving death threats. On election day, TSE reported incidents in at least four departments including suspension of voting in San Jorge, Zacapa, department after electoral authorities received death threats. Regional focus on migration continued; govt 13 June began talks in Guatemala City with U.S. officials, reportedly on designating Guatemala “safe third country”, which would require Central American migrants to seek asylum in Guatemala, rather than continuing north to U.S. Despite U.S. claims agreement was close, govt 26 June said such agreement was not under discussion.

May 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political manoeuvring and hostilities continued ahead of 16 June presidential election with cancellation of numerous candidacies, amid fears of political violence and attacks on candidates. In most prominent series of rulings widely believed to be politically motivated, constitutional court (CC) 15 May rejected Movimiento Semilla party’s appeal to allow former attorney general and anti-corruption figure Thelma Aldana to stand as its candidate in presidential elections, following contested legal ruling revoking her candidacy in April. Aldana late April revealed U.S. intelligence had informed her of plot to assassinate her, raising concerns over potential political violence around election. CC 17 May provisionally suspended court ruling that rejected prosecutors’ request to lift immunity of presidential candidate for Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE) party Sandra Torres, who leads pre-election polls, over allegations of illicit electoral financing in 2015; however Torres allowed to continue campaigning until CC reaches definitive resolution, raising concerns over alleged institutional effort to block challenges against her. Interior Ministry 6 May revealed several mayoral and federal candidates requested police protection after receiving death threats.

April 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tensions and manoeuvring intensified ahead of June general elections, with Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) revoking presidential candidacy of former attorney general and candidate for Movimiento Semilla party Thelma Aldana over investigations into alleged fraud and cronyism, widely believed to be politically motivated. Judge from Femicide Tribunal forbade prosecutors from approaching second presidential contender Sandra Torres, candidate of Unidad Nacional de La Esperanza (UNE), who is under investigation for illicit electoral financing in 2015, despite Constitutional Court 1 April ruling that her immunity should be lifted – prompting speculation over institutional effort to block challenges against her. International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) continued to face political hostility despite high public approval; Sec Gen of Organization of American States Luis Almagro 8 April met Torres and discussed need for transparent elections with TSE working without interference from bodies such as CICIG, drawing criticism from CICIG chief Iván Velásquez.

March 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tensions continued over International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), particularly its role in corruption case involving family of President Morales, against whom CICIG has also been preparing possible charges over illicit electoral financing. Attorney general’s office 6 March appealed to Constitutional Court to overturn Appeal Court’s Feb ruling that removed CICIG as plaintiff in corruption case of Morales’ brother and son, amid govt’s attempts to ensure CICIG plays no further parts in national affairs. Inter-American Court of Human Rights 12 March publicly ordered govt to abandon controversial amnesty bill which would pardon crimes committed during 1960-1996 civil war, which also drew heavy criticism from other domestic and international actors. Group of lawmakers 13 March walked out during third and final reading of bill, forcing its suspension. Govt 12 March confirmed it had dismissed security head overseeing security for at-risk judges following concerns over his appointment in Jan and request from International Commission of Jurists. Regional focus on migration continued with Northern Triangle and U.S. govts 27 March signing agreement to deter international crime and curb irregular migration; however U.S. State Department 30 March announced end of aid to region, day after President Trump claimed Northern Triangle countries had “set up” migrant caravans.

February 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Tensions remained high between govt and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, which has been preparing case and possible charges against President Morales and others for illicit electoral financing) following Morales’ attempted cancellation of CICIG’s mandate in Jan. Head of State Prosecutor’s office 16 Feb reiterated govt does not recognise CICIG as a valid actor in national affairs, after CICIG representatives were present at initial hearing 13 Feb in case of former prosecutor accused of obstruction of justice. Sweden 17 Feb recalled ambassador for consultations citing political situation and state of bilateral relations; in May 2018 govt had claimed ambassador had interfered in domestic politics. Political violence increased with attacks on candidates in lead up to June presidential elections, including unknown assailants 11 Feb shooting dead Marvin Giovanni Peña, Fuerza party’s mayoral candidate for Tiquisate, Escuintla department (south); Fuerza presidential candidate Mauricio Radford warned of chronic absence of authority in municipalities such as Dolores y Las Cruces, El Petén department (north). Govt late-Jan appointed Morales ally to oversee security of at-risk judges, leading to concerns Morales may use provision of security to pressure judges. In attempts to stem flow of Central American migrants northward, Morales and foreign and economy ministers 15 Feb met delegation of U.S. senators and congressmen to review Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle plan to address structural problems fuelling irregular migration.

January 2019

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political turmoil worsened as govt intensified attacks on International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, which has been preparing case and possible charges against President Morales and others for illicit electoral financing) and against Constitutional Court (CC), which has been defending CICIG. After CC early Jan intervened to release CICIG official detained at airport on entering country, Morales 7 Jan announced end of agreement with UN on CICIG, giving representatives 24 hours to leave country. Lawyers and civil society filed multiple appeals with CC, which 8 Jan ruled against govt’s decision. CICIG chief Iván Velásquez – previously a target of govt anger for his work – 14 Jan stated he would resign if CICIG was allowed to function until planned end of its mandate in Sept. Foreign ministry 16 Jan defied CC ruling and withdrew diplomatic immunity and privileges from all CICIG staff, while CICIG was excluded from tribunal hearing case against Morales’ relatives 18 Jan. Thousands of protesters marched in Guatemala City 12 and 14 Jan in support of CICIG. Govt moves against CICIG caused international outcry: UN Sec-Gen Guterres rejected Morales’ 7 Jan decision, while regional and international partners and UN human rights office called on govt to respect democratic institutions and reverse decision. Govt also targeted CC, with Supreme Court of Justice 9 Jan beginning proceedings against three CC judges; Congress 17 Jan created committee to study whether to lift immunity of CC judges. Seven people were injured in bomb explosion in bus in Guatemala City 21 Jan; investigations pointed to gang extortion racket, for which suspected attacker is being tried.

December 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt continued campaign against International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), fuelling political tensions. Foreign Ministry 17 Dec revoked visas and waived diplomatic immunity for eleven CICIG investigators working on corruption cases including those against President Morales for illicit electoral financing; govt gave ten investigators 72 hours to leave country; civil society groups responded demanding resignation of FM Jovel, and Constitutional Court 21 Dec ruled ministry should issue visas by 24 Dec. Ministry 24 Dec filed appeal, clarifying reasons behind its defiance of court’s ruling; CICIG 31 Dec announced govt had renewed visas for the investigators. CICIG chiefIván Velásquez 7 Dec accused political parties of sharing out posts in judicial system, 12 Dec expressed willingness to return to Guatemala in Jan. CICIG and attorney general continued anti-corruption efforts including several arrests on charges of illicit electoral financing 13 Dec. Thousands of Guatemalans continued journeying through Central America and Mexico to reach U.S. despite dangers along route; group of masked men 8 Dec attacked 45 Guatemalan migrants in Veracruz, Mexico, killing one,while two Guatemalan children died in U.S. Border Patrol custody 8 and 25 Dec, causing public outcry. U.S. President Trump 28 Dec threatened to cut “all aid” to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they do more to stop migration.

November 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt continued campaign against International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which has been preparing case and possible charges against President Morales and others for illicit electoral financing. VP Jafeth Cabrera 20 Nov said govt will resist external pressure to renew CICIG mandate. Tensions increased between govt and Constitutional Court (CC, which ruled against govt’s decision not to grant CICIG head re-entry as unconstitutional) with some 50 members of Congress drafting bill to dissolve court via popular referendum, although unlikely to gain majority support for the measure.  CICIG and attorney general late Oct detained former interior minister and four top former police officers on charges of operating extrajudicial executions 2004-2007; deputy interior minister, also reportedly implicated in case, resigned and went into hiding 29 Oct. Congress 27 Nov approved 2019 budget cutting funds to Human Rights Ombudsman office; next day approved series of measures that some believe will favour impunity. Morales 5 Nov met with Honduran President Hernández to address “migrant caravan” and urged Mexico, U.S. and El Salvadoran authorities to investigate its origins and identify those responsible.

October 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Tensions continued over govt’s campaign to expel International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which has been preparing case and possible charges against President Morales and others for illicit electoral financing. Constitutional Court (CC) 28 Sept rejected three out of eight appeals from govt against its ruling to allow CICIG chief Velásquez to re-enter country; army announced it would abide by CC ruling but govt 3 Oct reiterated its demands for UN to appoint new chief and deputy for CICIG, with Morales refusing to recognise Velásquez. Foreign ministry 16 Oct revoked visas for three CICIG officials and denied renewal to eight; in response, congress members filed appeals to CC. Chief prosecutor for electoral crimes 1 Oct passed case against Morales to congressional committee of inquiry; following committee’s report, congress 16 Oct refused to remove president’s immunity and passed new law reducing punishment for illicit electoral financing 18 Oct. Court 9 Oct sentenced former VP Roxana Baldetti to fifteen years in prison on charges of fraud, influence trafficking and unlawful association, in first of four corruption cases against her following CICIG investigation. President Trump 16 and 22 Oct threatened to suspend funding to region if migrant caravan from Honduras is not stopped (see Honduras). General Directorate for Migration 8 Oct revealed U.S. deportations of Guatemalans in 2018 already at 38,296, compared with 22,241 total in 2017.

September 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

President Morales early Sept renewed his campaign to dismantle International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, which has been preparing case and possible charges against him for illicit electoral financing), prompting political and constitutional crisis. Following Morales’ 31 Aug announcement he would not renew CICIG mandate when it ends in Sept 2019, military vehicles same day surrounded CICIG’s main building. Morales 4 Sept banned Colombian judge and CICIG chief Iván Velásquez from re-entering country, requesting UN appoint replacement. Constitutional Court (CC) 16 Sept ordered govt allow Velásquez’s entry and called for dialogue with UN; Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart and Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel next day defied ruling and confirmed ban. As of 25 Sept, the presidency, three ministries, national police and two lawyers had filed eight appeals to CC to revoke its ruling. Move drew widespread domestic and international criticism. Civil society network Convergence for Human Rights 18 Sept filed criminal complaint against govt for disobeying CC ruling, while ombudsman for human rights Jordán Rojas 19 Sept filed appeal to CC demanding Degenhart and Jovel’s dismissal. Activists 10 Sept began staging peaceful protests in support of CICIG. Govt deployed thousands of military and police to contain peaceful protests and impede access to centre of Guatemala City; civil society organisations 13 Sept denounced “remilitarisation” of country. International partners also condemned Morales’ action, although U.S. took milder stance and advocated for “reformed CICIG” and for respecting Guatemala’s sovereignty. Congressional committee of inquiry established late Aug to assess whether to lift Morales’ immunity from prosecution (as requested by attorney general’s office and CICIG) 18 Sept requested Morales to appear before congress in mid-Oct.

August 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Attorney General (AG) Consuelo Porras and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) 11 Aug requested for third time that Supreme Court and Congress lift immunity of President Morales so he can face charges of illicit electoral financing. Supreme Court 22 August allowed pre-trial to begin. Porras and CICIG 14 Aug issued thirteen arrest warrants against politicians and business figures; police apprehended five despite govt obstruction. CICIG and Supreme Electoral Court 16 Aug signed agreement to jointly combat illicit financing in 2019 general election. Morales 31 Aug announced he will not renew CICIG mandate, which will end Sept 2019. Former AG Thelma Aldana late July confirmed willingness to stand as candidate in 2019 presidential elections. Trend of rising homicide rates continued with authorities reporting 23% increase in murders 16 June-1 Aug; 40 civil society organisations 19 Aug denounced killings of at least nineteen human rights activists and journalists in 2018; indigenous leader Juana Raymundo found dead 28 July with signs of torture. Experts 25 July voiced concern that increasingly active “citizens’ security groups” could turn into armed criminal organisations, and officials called on public not to fund them. Interior ministry 6 Aug reported only 53 of 2,000 minors separated from families by U.S. immigration authorities have returned from U.S..

July 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

President Morales reportedly continued efforts to undermine International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), proposing changes including narrowing definition of corruption, increasing donor reporting requirements, limiting Commissioner Iván Velásquez’s authority and appointing govt-approved deputy commissioner. Police 4 July reassigned twenty of 45 police officers providing security to CICIG officials. U.S. embassy 6 July issued statement supporting anti-corruption efforts and conditioning tranche of aid on continuing fight against graft. Govt 16 July appointed Conrado Reyes – former short-lived attorney general (AG), who CICIG investigated and removed from office in 2010 over alleged links to criminal networks – as substitute judge in Constitutional Court. New AG Consuelo Porras reportedly ordered review of public prosecutor’s special unit against impunity (FECI) investigation into Morales’s alleged illicit election financing. Morales implicated in further scandals as former FM Edgar Gutiérrez 9 July accused him of sexually harassing at least two women working in public institutions. Responding to migration crisis and U.S. deportations of Central American migrants, Guatemala 10-11 July hosted Northern Triangle of Central America and Mexico (Tricamex) meeting attended by El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico FMs, as well as U.S. homeland security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, who agreed to establish special homeland security office dedicated to family reunification, set up campaign to promote legal migration, tackle human trafficking and share information. Some observers accused govt of failing to adequately address issue amid reports of 5,995 Guatemalan children remaining in U.S. migration centres, with 475 separated from families in recent months.

June 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Thousands of protesters demanded President Morales’s resignation following much-criticised govt response to 3 June eruption of Fuego volcano, which according to official figures killed at least 110, although many said govt downplayed number killed; attorney general 7 June launched formal investigation to determine if protocols were implemented. Human Rights Ombudsman Jordán Rodas 21 June criticised what he called Morales’s “indifference” to murders of indigenous and peasant leaders, with at least three reported murdered in May.

May 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Govt 16 May appointed Consuelo Porras new attorney general (AG); despite concerns in some quarters she will be influenced by President Morales’s attempts to hinder the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), said her commitment to continue investigations begun by her predecessor – including against sitting president – was “beyond doubt”. CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez and outgoing AG Thelma Aldana early May revealed new phase of investigation into alleged illicit campaign funding of Morales’s political party, which Aldana said should be enough to justify request to remove his immunity from prosecution. Govt 16 May moved embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, reportedly in bid by Morales to get U.S. to reduce support and funding for CICIG. Govt 14 May requested Sweden and Venezuela withdraw ambassadors for interfering in national affairs.

April 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Commission in charge of selecting candidates for new attorney general 17 April presented final list of six to govt; President Morales to decide by 16 May amid concerns he will appoint a counter-reformist candidate, and calls from civil society organisations that he conduct an open and transparent selection process. Former military dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, whose trial on charges of genocide during counter-insurgent campaign in early 1980s had been scheduled to restart 6 April, died 1 April aged 91.

March 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Media 16 March revealed recently appointed Minister of Governance Enrique Degenhart’s alleged links to Guatemala City Mayor Álvaro Arzú, an opponent of Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Degenhart forced to backtrack on removal of eleven members of intelligence service from CICIG, but sacked police chief and three senior police officers supportive of campaign against corruption. U.S. Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley emphasised support for CICIG during official visit 27-28 Feb.

February 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Tensions between supporters and opponents of anti-corruption campaign continued to create political strain. Attorney general and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) presented more major cases, including on 13 Feb “Transurbano” case against former president Álvaro Colom, twelve members of cabinet and three members of Urban Bus Businesses Association, allegedly part of a scheme that embezzled $35mn. Foreign minister 1 Feb met with UN Secretary-General to accuse CICIG Commissioner Ivan Velásquez of abuse of power, violations of suspects’ human rights, and ascendancy over national judicial institutions. U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga 12 Feb spoke in support of CICIG and Velásquez. President Morales 8 Feb met U.S. President Trump, who thanked Morales for moving Guatemala’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

January 2018

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Backlash in parts of political elite against anti-corruption fight continued to gather momentum. Congressman Álvaro Arzú Escobar, son of Guatemala City mayor and former President Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, elected president of Congress 13 Jan; new legislative directive council received majority of votes from so-called “Pact of the Corrupt” deputies that in Sept 2017 authorised changes to penal code to prevent them from being prosecuted for corruption, later reversed by Constitutional Court. Arzú 14 January said new congressional authorities will not accept “others trying to decide for us”, and announced legislative agenda prioritising economic reactivation; critics perceive moves as detrimental to campaign against corruption, fear they may herald end to reforms to judiciary. Anti-corruption campaign also weakened by dismissal of Juan Francisco Solórzano Foppa on 18 Jan as head of tax service. Ombudsman Jordán Rodas 17 Jan had filed request for legal protection for Foppa and tweeted his worries that “dark forces” were seeking to expel International Commission against Impunity (CICIG) in Guatemala. With process underway to elect new attorney general, civil society groups and U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga expressed concern about need to prevent illicit influences over process. U.S. congressional Deputy Norma Torres mid-Jan proposed increased sanctions on Guatemalans who hinder CICIG’s and attorney general’s fight against corruption.

December 2017

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Ombudsman’s office and UNESCO 30 Nov demanded urgent action from govt to protect journalists. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein 20 Nov expressed concern over threats, smear campaign and harassment affecting Ombudsman Jordan Rodas, increasing after Rodas’ legal action successfully blocked President Jimmy Morales’ order to expel International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) Commissioner Iván Velásquez 27 Aug.

November 2017

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Country continued to see high levels of violence, including four simultaneous armed attacks in Guatemala City attributed to street-gang extortion 10 Nov left four employees or service providers of Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica dead and two wounded. Hundreds of protesters 7 Nov blocked country’s main highways, demanding resignation of President Morales and members of Congress who mid-Sept tried to modify criminal code to avert prosecutions on corruption and illegal financing charges. National University Student’s Association 16 Nov staged peaceful march through Guatemala City, calling for clean-up of Congress. With support of International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), courts made progress on multiple anti-corruption cases: 27 Oct sent to trial 28 suspects, including former President Otto Pérez Molina and former VP Roxana Baldetti, for participating in 2015 “La Línea” customs fraud case; 7 Nov lifted immunity of congressional deputy Julio Júarez to be investigated for alleged role in 2015 murder of two journalists; 4 Nov indicted deputy Roberto Kestler for corruption in justice system; and 3 Nov indicted seventeen municipal authorities for corruption in first major case in Western Highlands.

October 2017

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political tension remained high as Supreme Court 10 Oct cancelled all requests to lift President Morales’ immunity from prosecution, including one from attorney general’s office based on monthly bonus paid to Morales by defence ministry since Jan 2017. Court also cancelled requests to lift immunity of 107 congressional deputies who mid-Sept tried to modify criminal code to avert prosecutions on corruption and illegal financing charges. Foreign ministry 9 Oct revoked visa of UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) Commissioner Ivan Velásquez, citing administrative errors in request for renewal; 17 Oct announced it would maintain validity of visa, but reminded Velásquez of obligation to “abstain from meddling in internal affairs”. Constitutional Court 18 Oct threatened to order dismissal of foreign minister and his deputy if warning not revoked. CICIG 5 Oct opened new case on prison-based criminal network linked to Guatemala City mayor and former President Álvaro Arzú. New U.S. ambassador to Guatemala 18 Oct declared anti-corruption would be his priority. Re-trial of former military dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide started 13 Oct.

September 2017

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Political crisis pitting citizens defending anti-corruption campaign and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) against Congress and President Morales continued. Congress 11 Sept upheld president’s immunity from prosecution; 13 Sept altered agenda of Congress’ ordinary session and overwhelmingly approved reforms to penal code under the pretext of “national urgency”. Reforms included modifications to rules on illegal financing of politics clearing prominent party leaders from investigations for possible wrongdoing during 2015 campaign, making jail sentences for corruption crimes commutable for fines. Widespread perception of Congress’ actions as impunity pact among political class produced outrage, mobilising thousands to protest. Constitutional Court 14 Sept ruled Congress’ decisions unlawful. Congress met next day to backtrack; hundreds of protesters stopped deputies from leaving premises for nine hours. Series of marches against deputies took place across country 20 Sept, drawing estimated 200,000 people; several govt ministers resigned 19 Sept. Congress 21 Sept again voted to uphold president’s immunity from prosecution but kept request available for future consideration. Revelations emerged 12 Sept of $6,850 monthly bonus paid to President Morales by defence ministry, further undermining support for president.

August 2017

Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala

Country’s fight against impunity and corruption hung in balance as President Morales 27 Aug declared Colombian national Iván Velásquez, head of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), persona non grata and ordered him to leave country, accusing him of exceeding his mandate. Decision prompted protests in capital, resignation of some cabinet members, and expressions of concern from UN and Western ambassadors. Constitutional Court placed immediate stay on decision, and 29 Aug ruled expulsion order invalid. Morales had travelled to New York 25 Aug and complained to UNSG Guterres about Velásquez amid ongoing probe into suspected corruption by his brother and son; CICIG 25 Aug said Morales should be investigated over alleged illicit fund